Relief, confidence after getting vaccinated

Three Roswell Park patients receiving their COVID-19 vaccine.
Pictured: Denise Giambrone, left, Carmela Borgese, center, and Kim Sambuchi, right, are all patients at Roswell Park.

Last April, it would have been difficult to imagine we’d still be talking about COVID-19 today. But it also would have been hard to believe vaccines would be available.

For cancer patients at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the vaccine means a new way to help protect themselves against an invisible threat.

“I was relieved to have this done, but even more grateful to have it done at Roswell Park because I know how efficient they are,” says Kim Sambuchi. “A year ago, we probably thought we’d never be here. But then again, who really thought we’d still be dealing with COVID-19 a year later.”

So far, more than 74 million people have been vaccinated against the virus in the United States alone.

Carmela Borgese says some of her family members tested positive for the virus but had only mild cases. She’s glad things are starting to feel almost normal again.

“I’m looking forward to getting together with friends and going to some of my meetings,” she says. “I wasn’t doing that before.”

Denise Giambrone received her first dose of the vaccine after one of her regular follow-up visits at Roswell Park by simply walking across the street from the hospital to the vaccine distribution site in the Research Studies Center.

“It was perfect,” she says. “I got it because I wanted to get it. I wanted to make sure I’m on the same page because everyone’s getting it. It just felt good.”

Regardless of whether additional booster doses will be needed later, the benefits of having the vaccine provided some immediate rewards. While they’re still wearing masks and practicing social distancing as advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the women said they do feel more confident going about their lives now, knowing they’re protected and they’re helping to protect others.

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“It’s important,” Carmela says. “As long as I have a mask on, I feel OK. I don’t really think about COVID unless I’m in the grocery store, and then I just don’t get too close to people.”

Kim agrees, saying it’s nice to know she’s done her part.

“Having the vaccine definitely increased my confidence and made things a little more acceptable, like getting together with friends and family. It’s made me more confident in interacting with them without having to worry as much about getting COVID or, inadvertently, giving it to others,” she says.

While they would not judge or criticize anyone who decides to wait a little longer to get their doses, they encourage people to get the information they need to feel safe, secure and prepared when the time comes.

“I feel it’s better to get it,” Kim says. “Nothing’s 100%, but this is better than nothing. That’s ultimately the bottom line. I think we have to look at the whole puzzle. We’re all a piece of it and every piece matters to complete the puzzle and make the world safer. That’s what we should do.”

Editor’s Note: Cancer patient outcomes and experiences may vary, even for those with the same type of cancer. An individual patient’s story should not be used as a prediction of how another patient will respond to treatment. Roswell Park is transparent about the survival rates of our patients as compared to national standards, and provides this information, when available, within the cancer type sections of this website.